Parents Cranky Because They Felt A School Spirit ‘Gender Bender’ Day Would Give Their Kids The Gay

Gender Bender Elementary School DayOh man, even I know this  gender bender elementary school day sounds like a bad idea and I’m one of those parents who has zero issue with kids dressing like members of the opposite sex. Bring on the boys in skirts and the girls in mustaches! Actually, my own daughter received a set of mustaches two years ago from Santa. STORY BREAK!

So I do this thing with my kids around the holidays when catalogues arrive, and I let them mark the pages of these catalogues in order to give Santa an idea of what they want. My daughter who was six at the time came running into the room SO EXCITED because she had found something she wanted more than anything. I can remember her saying:


And it was a set of mustaches. And this is what she got. And she wore them daily until I actually had to use eyelash glue to attach them to her upper lip because she all of the sticky stuff had worn off. She LOVED her facial hair until one of her creepy little friends informed her that girls CAN’T have mustaches. Sad. But she went through a big phase where she was madly in love with having a mustache. On occasion she will draw one on with sharpie but I can tell she is not doing it as joyfully and unselfconsciously as she once was, because she will freak out and scrub her face before leaving the house.

Anyway, I interrupted this regularly scheduled article for this story break because um, I knew that my kid playing with gender roles or wearing something manly would not give her the gay, because she wasn’t born gay. Some parents think that kids can catch the gay but it just doesn’t work that way. So when this elementary school in Milwaukee decided to have a “Gender Bender”  elementary school day as part of their school spirit week a lot of parents got real cranky. From the Daily Mail:

Parents have complained that a Wisconsin elementary school is promoting homosexuality through its ‘Gender Bender’ theme day.

As part of the Milwaukee school’s ‘Spirit Week’ pupils from kindergarten to eighth grade were encouraged to dress like the opposite sex.

But parents described the voluntary event as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘creepy’, fearing it would encourage homosexuality among children.

Sam Ward, who has a child at the school, told Fox News 6: ‘I think it’s just teaching them the wrong lesson about gender. If you’re a boy, stay a boy. You shouldn’t have something like that at school.’

Other parents chose to keep their children at home rather then send to Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities on the theme day last Friday.

One mother, who asked not to be named, said she had no problem with teenagers having a fun day dressing like the opposite sex, but her seven-year-old son had been confused by the event. 

Deidri Hernandez, who was so incensed about ‘Gender Bender Day’ she complained to principal Jeffrey Krupar, said: ‘Having students dress as “transvestites” will distract from the learning process.’

Ms Hernandez also said the event would promote the acceptance of homosexuality, according to the Huffington Post.

In effort to appease parents, the school changed the name to ‘Switch It Up Day’ but Ms Hernandez said: ‘They might as well call it “Transgender Day”.’


I can see not having this gender bender elementary school day because for one, it seems like it would give kids a chance to ape up all sorts of awful gay stereotypes as they minced off to the cafeteria wearing their ball gowns and boas and two, of course parents are going to lose their shit over this because OMG IT WILL GIVE KIDS THE GAY. It just doesn’t seem like any of it is worth the trouble because even though we are as a nation more tolerant and accepting and normal, there are still many people who feel OMG THE GAY. Keep the school spirit days to boring ones like pajama day or hippie day or whatever shit my kids remind me of one the day they have to dress up with 15 minutes before the bus comes. This is AMERICUH and we do not want our kids catching the gay from wearing dresses or suit coats!
(Photo:  Pavel L Photo and Video/shutterstock)

Be Sociable, Share!
Be Sociable, Share!
  • Shea

    We had a day like this during Spirit Week when I was in high school, it was good fun. As far as I know, the straight kids stayed straight, the gay kids stayed gay, and everyone enjoyed dressing up. I thought this sort of thing was pretty common. These parents must have really easy lives if they have this much energy to freak out about their kids wearing clothes that *gasp* *clutches pearls* weren’t made for their gender. And I’m pretty sure there’s no required participation; if Sonny Boy doesn’t feel comfortable borrowing his sister’s dress for the day, he doesn’t have to.

  • allisonjayne

    Yeah I’d be annoyed by that for the same reasons you mentioned – stereotypes, pretty much ragging on people who actually ARE trans* (or crossdressers, drag performers, or folks who don’t dress ‘typical’ for their gender because they don’t want to – tomboys, femmey boys, etc)….and it just promotes the idea that men and women (or girls and boys) are OPPOSITES instead of the fact that we’re all, y’know, humans.

  • Mary

    No, you can’t “catch the gay” as you say. You are born that way, I have always felt that. Putting myself in that situation, I can tell you with certainty neither of my kids would have been cool with this activity. I have a son and daughter and I think both of them would decline to dress like the opposite sex, it’s just who they are. Our spirit week consists of crazy hat day, crazy hair day, etc. Keep it simple and fun. It’s grade school we’re talking about, save that stuff for middle school.

  • faifai

    Hmm. Is dressing up like the opposite gender a “gay thing”? None of my gay male friends want to dresses; ok, my gay female friends wear tshirts & jeans but tshirts & jeans aren’t solely the provenance of boys anymore. Do little kids even know gay stereotypes? I know the big kids do. But a kindegartener?

    • Psych Student

      Exactly! It’s not a gay thing, it’s a trans thing. At most, it’s a gender queer thing. My wife and I and all our gay friends stick with gender specific clothing for the most part.

    • faifai

      Exactly. Hell, not all cross-dressers are gay (Eddie Izzard makes a big point of emphasizing this). I dunno, the writer’s statement “I can see not having this gender bender elementary school day because it seems like it would give kids a chance to ape up all sorts of awful gay stereotypes as they minced off to the cafeteria wearing their ball gowns and boas” rubbed me the wrong way. That statement actually repeats the ignorant parents’ assertion that dressing as the opposite gender is something that gay people do.

  • Amber

    People who think like that are self hating homosexuals. That’s why they are so scared. They think EVERYONE wants to have some hot gay sex because that’s what they desperately want. If you make it acceptable, they think EVERYONE will just start being gay because that’s preferable in their mind.

    I knew one of these women from a mommy group when my son was little. She was adamantly against gay rights because if gays had rights, her daughter would be gay and she desperately wanted grandchildren someday. During her rant she even said something like, “Oh come on! If it were acceptable, we would ALL be gay! Then humanity would die out, we can’t let that happen.”

    Yep… That pretty much says it all. It’s sad really.

    • Eve Vawter

      Ya know, as creepy as these stories are what is awesome that even my most conservative friends really do not give a fuck who is gay, which shows that people just don’t care that much anymore. Sure, there are a handful of parents who freak out about this stuff but I do believe that many people are just as eyerolly as we are

    • Amber

      It really depends on where you live. There are still communities where it is social acceptable to applaud someone for murdering a gay person or to celebrate the suicide of a gay teenager. Sad but true.

    • Rachel Sea

      I’ve been with my wife for almost 10 years and my grandmother is still coming to terms with it. I still have relatives who do not know I am married because the backlash against my grandmother (for raising a son who had a dyke daughter) would be too painful for her.

      The number of rabid gay-bashers has gone down, but that doesn’t mean people are accepting.

    • Psych Student

      I know a lot of religious people who are very gay positive and accepting. It’s too bad that the loud people give the rest of them a bad name.

    • Makabit

      I hear this sort of reasoning from time to time…gay rights will destroy us all, because men will stop marrying women and there will be no children, and no families, and…and it’s like, hold it. Are you actually saying that you think that heterosexuality is not, in fact, something that ninety-ish percent of the population does naturally, it’s something we have to be socially coerced into keeping up? That all the people sleeping with the opposite sex out there are just taking one for the team?

    • Amber

      Yep, that’s what they think because that’s what they’re doing.

    • Psych Student

      Yes, yes *rubs hands together* good. The gay sex is so appealing that only marriage can distract from it. Soon, all will know the ways of the gay sex. Bwahahahaha.

    • Psych Student

      Yes, there seems to be the attitude that the only thing keeping the world from being gay is the lack of rights. And, if mom is worried about getting grandchildren, she shouldn’t, my wife and I are going to make the babies.
      Besides that, I feel certain that even if we DOUBLED the number of gay people in the world AND assumed that not one of them had their own biological children (by mixing DNA with straight people or gay people), there would still be gay parents with children due to the tremendously high number of children who need to be adopted! This idea that every person in the world is default gay and will revert back to gay once they are given rights and then no one will ever mix their DNA together again is just so *headdesk* inducing it hurts (but that may be due to the head hitting the desk). I was talking to a friend today and said that everyone knows that everytime a gay couple marries a straight couple divorces. To which he responded that gay people must have been getting married for a long time.
      One more thing (sorry this is getting so long) that my friend pointed out to me. Before we worried about “the gays” taking out the population, there was famine, plauge, and war. Sooo, would people prefer that famine, plauge and war reduce the population, or would you rather that the gays marry and adopt children (to the benefit of everyone involved) and therein not increase the population nor wack it upside the head. But hey, if they want plauge, then we can have plauge, I suppose. *shrug*

  • Alex Lee

    Ah, Wisconsin. A very admirable goal that teacher set for him/herself.

    Kilts and togas. Watch conservative brains ‘splode.

    I really love this quote: “Ms Hernandez also said the event would promote the acceptance of homosexuality” – and we just CAN’T HAVE THAT, now, can we?

    Also, thanks for the mustache story. She’s awesome like her mom.

    • Psych Student

      Kilts?! *drools* (over grown men in kilts – I assure you!).
      I had a reaction to the same quote you did. Promoting acceptance of homosexuality?! The HORROR!

  • 88Mwife

    I wonder what those parents would say if they saw my nephew. my sister lets him wear whatever he wants, and yesterday that included a pink shirt with a glittery panda on it. why? because he likes pandas and my sister feels that telling him that he can’t wear something he really wanted (asked for it for a week straight) because its ‘for girls’ would be more damaging to his psyche then wearing a girls shirt every once in a while. god. catch the gay? can people be more dense? whats the best way to get little kids to feel ashamed about something? have all their parents overreact and spout off to newspeople. get it together wisconsin. i’m ashamed to be from the midwest.

    • Tawnya Reid

      I want to hug your sister for being awesome. She is so on point with that logic!! For serious! Who cares what item or color “belongs” to a gender. Ugh. Priorities.

  • Zettai

    I have to say I wouldn’t have it, either, but not because of the reason these parents and administrators are using. When I was in high school (it wasn’t THAT long ago) we used to do this for one day during spirit week. There were no stereotypes or bashing, it was all in good fun, boys with feather boas and overstuffed bras walking clumsily in high heels, and girls in do rags and mustaches.

    The year a trans M to F student enrolled the day was cancelled. No one ever said that was the reason, but everyone assumed it was because of her. I couldn’t say I blamed the administration if this was true, because the girl was having a hard enough time in school because the crap they got from a lot of people was NOT in good fun.

    I’d like to say that if the school had kept up with the crossdressing day, other students could have used the humor of it to build some rapport and understanding with this transgendered kid, but it’s not likely. It would have just placed a bigger target on their back. Having crossdressing day is like saying “We know boys being girls and girls being boys is WRONG, that’s why it’s SO hilarious!” So I’m against it.

    (By the way, the trans girl eventually transferred out to alternative school, after I graduated. I wonder what happened to her.)

  • Rachelle

    What do you mean kids can’t catch the gay?!?! You mean I’ve been asking my lesbian best-friend to sneeze on my daughter for nothing?! Fack!

    • Eve Vawter

      YES! I am totally going to fave this comment 383893992 times in my heart

    • Makabit

      Sneezing is too diffuse. Get her to lick the kid. Right on the forehead works well.

      (Actually, my husband has been trying to build up our daughter’s immune system by asking all of our friends to lick the baby. So far, only one has taken him up on it.)

    • Eve Vawter

      Can you please mail us videos of people licking the baby? Please?

    • Rachelle

      Yes. Licking! Didn’t think of that! Awesome!

    • DrStephanieDVM

      Thank you! I needed the laugh I got from this. You totally saved my afternoon :-)

    • CrazyFor Kate

      No, no, the lesbian has to buy her a pair of Doc Martens and some flannel pajamas, that’s how it works.

    • Rachelle

      Damn it again! I knew I should’ve pushed my gay godmother to get me those 72-hole Docs! For a while I thought I had the symptoms of the gay, but I ended up marrying and having a kid with a dude.

      So close.

    • Rachel Sea

      Ohmygod, I thought I was born bisexual, but it’s totally is my family’s fault I married a woman! When I was 13 my uncle bought me a pair of Doc Martens, and I used to sleep in my dad’s worn-out plaid flannel shirts.

    • Simone

      Effing hilarious….

    • Psych Student

      Rachelle – you ROCK! You are wonderful and amazing and just super awesome! That is all. :D

  • Véronique Houde

    the sad part is that this has nothing to do with being gay, but transgendered… They’re two completely separate things. Why is it that people confused wanting to be intimate and have a loving relationship with someone of the same sex and wanting to be of the other sex?

    • Psych Student

      A great many people don’t understand the differences between sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, gender roles, and sex. Add to that that things are on a continuum rather than a one side or another (ex. gender queer, intersex, bisexual, etc.), it can be complicated and confusing. I do wish people at least understood the difference between sex, gender and sexual orientation though.

  • Makabit

    Cross-dressing as a festival-type thing is an old, old custom, practiced in many cultures with strong gender roles. It has never affected anyone’s sexuality. Also, as Ann Landers has been telling people for decades, most male cross-dressers are straight, anyway.

    I teach high school, and while we’ve never had a ‘gender-bender’ day, spirit week always has an ‘opposite day’, The kids interpret this to mean cross-dressing, always. The girls love it, and there are always some boys who will join in, especially when they realize the girls want to help them with their make-up. It’s fun, and it’s a chance for the kids to explore gender roles somewhat seriously, as well. I tell the boys, ‘pay attention to how the girls act when they’re in drag…they’re telling you how they see you’.

    And if there’s a kid who’s a future drag queen, or trans, and gets to experiment publicly in a safe setting for one day, so much the better.

    • Psych Student

      Excellent point – most men who cross-dress are straight.

  • LiteBrite

    “Ms Hernandez also said the event would promote the acceptance of homosexuality, according to the Huffington Post.”

    What I find most amusing is this school is located in Bayview, an area of the city with a fairly high gay population. If Ms Hernandez is worried about the acceptance of homosexuality and her kid “catching the gay”, school is the least of her concerns.

    “Catch the Gay.” Maybe that should be Bayview’s new neighborhood motto.

    (Disclaimer: I’m being snarky here.)

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Or maybe the Village People’s new slogan?

    • LiteBrite

      Or their new comeback song? I would so turn that up on Sirius!

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Hit remix. “YMCA! You caught the gay!”

    • Psych Student

      I like that. It’s catchy!

  • Justme

    Well, to be honest…there are a lot of “cooler” theme days they could have chosen to go with.

    It’s probably not the *best* idea from a school district, because they had to have known there would be some concern and outrage, regardless of whether there is justification for said concern and outrage.

    I don’t think that dressing like the opposite gender for a theme day (or just for a Tuesday) makes anyone gay in the slightest. But coming from a school district’s standpoint, why not choose a day or theme that wouldn’t be easily….contested? If that makes sense.

  • Iwill Findu

    I did stuff like that growing up one day I traded clothing with a guy friend, he went around in my skirt and fuzzy sweater. He kept rubbing himself (his arms and chest nothing previe) asking why guys didn’t get such soft fuzzy clothing and that he wanted to keep my sweater because it was so fuzzy. We didn’t end up gay or becoming a cross-dresser, it’s just a funny story we tell now as adults.

    • Psych Student

      Boys should be jealous. Girls get the soft, fuzzy stuff. It’s fun.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Even if you kid could “catch the gay” from dressing up, who cares? Is a gay kid any bit more noteworthy than a kid who is left-handed or a kid with freckles? I want my kid to be happy and healthy and a good person, and that’s it. Where does sexual orientation come into at all?

    • Psych Student

      Very well put. I’m hoping for gay children myself. Being a woman with a woman works very well for me, so why wouldn’t I want that for my child as well?

  • Jessie

    Oh Goddess bless, these people would have DIED if they saw that my mother allowed my big brother to dress as Smurfette for halloween when he was four… WAY back in 1987, even! And guess what? He is neither gay or transgender. Actually, he’s unfortunately a bit homophobic.
    But I guess that doesn’t matter to these people, because this is the land where what you wear is still more important than who you are.


  • Cee

    I LOVED these days during Spirit Week! The guys in sports teams usually went all out. They would wear floral dresses, pearls, comfortable white heals, and big hat, much like my nana would if she were going to the Kentucky Derby or fancy church.

    Do these parents know about lipstick/femme lesbians or guyish gay guys? As a lesbian myself, the other day I wore a ruffly dress with black wedges to my job which requires me troubleshooting technological issues. My coworkers, usually guys, wear Tshirts and jeans, which I can too, but I like to look purrty! Gendered clothes don’t make a child straight just as the opposite doesn’t make a child gay, sure your daughter can wear all the pink and glitter you want her too, but it wont stop her from loving a person of the same sex and so on…people are silly!

  • Simone

    I flicked through the comments looking for ones with heaps of meany down thumbs to see if anyone would be brave or …. odd enough to come out with some super-conservative Christian upsetted-ness about the idea of men wearing dresses… sadly I found only rational normal reasonable intelligent people and some pretty good-quality humour (come back anytime Rachelle)

    • Lastango

      That’s only because I didn’t see the post until now.

      Educators and administrators are acting as shock troops for the progressivist goal of deconstructing gender, which is part of deconstructing and recasting society. Parents who disagree with that agenda need to fight back, or the educrats will roll on to as-yet-undreamed-of excesses in their effort to hijack the kids. Many parents understand one thing clearly: in that collectivist campaign, there is no single booming event against which to protest. It’s a long march, made up of lots of little attacks, sprinkled throughout the curriculum. Any one of those elements may seem minor — so parents who disagree vigorously seem overwrought — but together and over time the propaganda pieces add up to political and cultural indoctrination.

      So, the only way for parents to voice concern and respond effectively is to do so one issue, one event at a time. To understand their position, it’s important to grasp that their fundamental objection is against the big picture, not the specific that happens to be the topic of the day.

    • Rachel Sea

      Times change. People eventually recognize that equal rights are not the exclusive privilege of the ruling class. You can choose to hold views aligned with the wrong side of history, but if you persist, you will find yourself a member of a shrinking, and increasingly embarrassing, minority.

    • Lastango

      The progressivist agenda has nothing whatever to do with equal rights. That’s just the packaging. It’s all about power, wielded through the state.

    • Rachel Sea

      The “packaging” is actually delivering equal rights.

      Ignoring that government has become increasingly conservative, while the population is increasingly liberal, if the alternative to your so-called “progressivist agenda” is a conservatist agenda wherein equal rights are withheld, then the “progressivist agenda” is still morally superior.

    • Lastango

      Government is increasingly conservative?

      Government is increasingly intrusive and totalitarian, and thereby aggressively destructive of personal liberty. The endgame — and the goal — is that no one will have any rights except the statist governing class and it allies.

      BTW, the “packaging” is not actually delivering equal rights. It is delivering equal outcomes, achieved by taking rights away from some people at legal gunpoint.

    • Rachel Sea

      LOL. Rights aren’t being taken away, white, cisgender, heterosexual male privilege is just less exclusively privileged than it used to be.

    • Lastango

      So war is peace, eh? Government-enforced tyranny, oppression, social control, and institutionalized theft is vastly more privileged than it used to be.

    • Psych Student

      So the fundamental objection that is to the acceptance of gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals is ok? Because it seems hateful and bigoted to me.

  • AP

    Funny, my high school banned Gender Bender day 15 years ago because it was creating a hostile environment for the LGBT students, who felt mocked, ridiculed, and marginalized by it, and also because it violated their rights to an equal education under civil rights laws.

    And these parents are whining it damages the heterosexual kids?

  • Rachel Sea

    I’d be irritated by a gender bender day only because the odds of having opposite gender clothes that fit well enough, and are weather appropriate are slim. Stick to dress up days that don’t require unreasonable parental effort.

  • brebay

    Didn’t every school have the pep rally where the football players dressed up like cheerleaders and everyone had a good laugh? It’s not mandatory, sheesh, lighten up!

  • Abendwind

    What is Spirit Week?

    • Leigha7

      At my school, it was a week where you showed off your school spirit (supposedly) by dressing up. There was a different theme each day–pajama day, costume day, silly hat day, etc. Ours usually coincided with Halloween/Red Ribbon Week. We didn’t have a crossdressing day, but some people did do that for costume day.

      I say “supposedly” because I most people participated just because it was fun, regardless of how much school spirit they had.

    • Ermahgerd Jersicur

      My high school always did two spirit weeks. The first was the week leading up to the homecoming game. On Friday it would be “show your colors day” – each class had a corresponding color, one of the school colors, and students would be dressed head to toe in their class color. The second was the week of courtwarming, again with friday being show your colors. There was always a pep rally for the last few hours of the school day on those Fridays and everyone just had a ton of fun.